After an extensive renovation, the Uptown Theatre in Uptown Minneapolis reopens again on Friday, September 14th. The renovated theater features new finishes, seats, screen, projector, lobby, bathrooms, and a freshened up exterior. In addition, the balcony allows patrons to purchase and watch the film with a glass of alcohol.
I got a sneak peak tonight and here is my impression and a few things I’ve learned:
1. No more complaints about the seats, that is, unless you end up with an uninvited guest in your love seat. So yes, you won’t get a rogue spring poking your butt, but the addition of love seats in part of the balcony might be a welcome addition for you and your date. Or, it may be a surprise if you end up placed on one half of the love seat and have a stranger be your blind date. Staff confirmed that there was the possibility that two strangers could share the love seat if enough tickets sold for a film.
In all seriousness, the seating arrangement is much better with less than half the number of seats remaining. The result are bigger, plush seats with sight lines and few seats off to the side. You can purchase tickets ahead of time, including online.
2. The sound and picture are much better. The screen is 40% bigger and the picture was incredibly crisp and the sound what you’d expect for a modern theater.
3. The art deco lives on and there are a couple of nice historic photos of the theater upstairs.
4. There is a bar.
5. There is a new retailer going into an enlarged corner retail space. They opted not to expand the lobby there.
It will be worth seeing how the theater performs after the remodel. It certainly will have a higher quality experience, but will it have the community atmosphere that sometimes creates the memorable movie-going experiences that many remember. One of my better memories of the theater was the Blair Witch Project (I know, I know…). With 800+ people there during its preview run and being a teenager, I recall the collective deep breathes and sighs as the movie progressed. It is what made the movie a hit that night and why it wasn’t the same at home. But if the audience is still made up with people who love film and know how to have a good time, I suspect the Uptown Theater will live on.
And I certainly owe Landmark and the new property owner, Ned Abdul, some well deserved credit for reinvesting in a large moviehouse with a balcony. In all reality, the theater could have very well been cut up into multiple screens instead. It was contemplated in the 1990s and a City of Minneapolis moratorium slowed that possibility down.